Mike Dianna

Mike Dianna Outer BanksMike Dianna figured out early on that he enjoyed seeing people smile and that entertainment is an important part of everyone’s life. This may account for why he opened a Corolla restaurant—Mike Dianna’s Grill Room—and is at the core of the reason that he has promoted the Mustang Music Festivals for the last five years.

His passion for hospitality came before he left his hometown in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. “In high school I worked in a Friendly’s Restaurant every summer,” he recalled. “I liked the social atmosphere of it. I liked seeing a smile on someone’s face. I liked the fast pace of it I liked the unpredictability of it. I still do today.”

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Currituck Beach Lighthouse

currituck lighthouse viewWhen the Bodie Island Lighthouse was completed in 1871 there was only one stretch of the eastern US coastline that remained dark—a condition the US Lighthouse Board noted in its 1871 report.

“With the completion of the light house at Body’s Island (Bodie Island) there will remain only one important interval of unlighted coast on the Atlantic from . . . Maine to . . . Florida. That dark space will be embraced between Cape Henry and Body’s Island, a distance of eighty miles and an unlighted space of forty miles, at the center of which there should be a first-order (Fresnel) Light . . . It is now believed that the construction of this tower should be no longer delayed.” Congress agreed, and in 1873 appropriated $50,000 to begin construction. When completed two years later, the new Currituck Beach Lighthouse cost $178,000, approximately $3.9 million in modern dollars.

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Fall Things To Do 2016

Mustang Music Festival LineupOver the past few years, the September and October months have become popular times to visit the Outer Banks.

There are so many great events during these months—even extending into November—that it’s almost difficult to know where to start! Great weather, great music, and great festivals. Plus, the water is still warm enough to go swimming and both the water and air temperatures can stay moderate well into October.

Music lovers mark Columbus Day on their calendar, as two great back-to-back festivals highlight the music scene over that three day weekend. The Mustang Music Festival at the Whalehead Club in Corolla headlines Friday and Saturday, with its eclectic blend of rock, blues and avant garde bluegrass. Sunday it’s the Duck Jazz Festival on the Duck Town Green, where impressive national and regional jazz artists perform in a near perfect outdoor setting.

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Visiting The Wild Horses of Carova

Wild Horses in CorollaOne of the most beautiful sights on the Outer Banks is the image of four or five Wild Mustangs standing atop a dune silhouetted against the sky. The visual perfectly captures the Outer Banks, its history, and the fragile balance that exists between people and nature.

There are approximately 100 wild horses roaming the 4WD area north of Corolla, usually called Carova for the small village at the state border with Virginia. The horses, descendants of the Spanish Mustangs of the conquistadors, have roamed the Outer Banks since the 16th century. At that time, the rivalry for control of North America between Spain and England was intense and often violent, eventually leading to the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588.

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Four Easy Things To Do with Kids

On the fourth day of sand, sun and surf, kids may start to think, “Is there anything to do besides swim in the ocean?” The first thought of parents at that point is often, “Now what?”
To calm the fears of parents wondering what to do with a suddenly bored eight-year old, we’ve assembled a list of four outdoor things to do with kids.

Kitty Hawk Pier FishingFishing from a Pier
There are five fishing piers from Nags Head to Kitty Hawk—Outer Banks Fishing Pier in South Nags Head, Jennette’s Pier, Nags Head Pier, Avalon Pier and Kitty Hawk Pier. These are great places to have some fun! The Outer Banks Pier, Nags Head and Avalon have a pier house that is staffed with locals who really know what’s happening in the waters. Jennette’s Pier offers classes geared toward kids, and even if you decide not to fish, Jennette’s Pier is worth visiting.

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Potential Outer Banks Energy Resources

Outer Banks Wave EnergyThe Outer Banks has always been known as a place of abundant natural resources. After all, fishing has been legendary since before the first European footprint marked the beach. Visiting guests regularly come to enjoy the natural beauty of the area, and now we can add energy to the list of our abundant resources.

Beginning in the summer of 2016, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will be offering a 122,000 area block of leases for sale. This is known as the Kitty Hawk Wind Energy Area (WEA). Conservative estimates put the potential at 2,000 MW of energy which is enough to power a city with a population greater than 600,000.

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Outer Banks Shipwrecks in 1877 & 1878

Outer Banks ShipwrecksThe winter of 1877-1878 was one of the most tragic there ever was on the Outer Banks. Two ships ran aground in heavy seas—the USS Huron and the steamer Metropolis. The loss of life shocked the nation. Perhaps most tragically, the tragedies could have possibly been prevented.

The Huron was launched in 1875 and had already sailed almost around the world when she left port in Hampton Roads on November 23, 1877. Almost immediately the ship ran into heavy seas and encountered a storm moving up the coast from the south. Either a faulty compass or a slight error in navigation brought the ship too close to the Nags Head shoreline, and the ship ran aground 200 yards from the beach. The crew elected to stay with the ship—the seas were far too violent to chance and the crew may have thought aid would be coming from the recently completed lifesaving station just two miles away. However, inadequate funding from Congress had forced the Life-Saving Service to staff their stations seasonally, and the Nags Head crew was not due to be on site until December 1. Over the course of the morning hours the sea pounded the ship into an unrecognizable hulk as witnesses watched helplessly from the shore. Of a crew of 141, only 34 survived.

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Art Party Palooza on the OBX

The Outer Banks has a high concentration of incredibly talented artists. Combined with a local community that prides itself on being creative and a few hundred thousand visi-tors showing up every week in the summer, the result is a thriving art community. Art Parties are a direct result of this pool of talent and quest for creativity. Lushes with Brushes, Paint a Pup, Spin Art OBX —- these are just a few of the themed parties that local artists have dreamed up. We’ve tracked down three artists combining parties and art-making to ask them about their experience bringing creativity to vacationers and locals alike.

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The Nags Head Casino

Nags Head Casino OBX
Photo Courtesy of the Outer Banks History Center

On July 12, 1958, Louis Armstrong (Satchmo), arrived on the Outer Banks, and Ras Wescott’s Nags Head Casino was packed! By reputation, the top level dance floor held 1,000 people, and we can only imagine that there were more awaiting the performance of this legendary jazz musician.

It was a typical July summer night on the Outer Banks … hot, humid and sticky. There is no doubt that if the evening temperature was sweltering, Louis Armstrong and his All Star Band were even hotter. By all accounts, Armstrong’s visit to the Casino was a major highlight of this legendary Outer Banks night spot.

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Great Food: An Outer Banks Tradition

So many great Outer Banks restaurants, so little time. In researching long-standing Outer Banks restaurants it was surprising how many there are still serving locals and visitors alike. This feature is about five ranging from casual eateries to fine dining options that are sure to please.

Owens Restaurant
7114 S. Virginia Dare Trail, Milepost 16.5, Nags Head, NC
Family owned and operated, Owens Restaurant opened in 1946 when Bob and Clara Owens relocated here from Manteo, NC. Their roots in serving food goes back to a hot dog stand they originally ran in Manteo since 1933. Owens is no hot dog stand, instead they serve southern coastal cuisine including fresh seafood, aged Angus beef, pasta specialties and outrageous desserts. As good as the food is, be sure to check out the bar. Most night there’s a piano playing, the seating is ideal for intimate conversations and the bartenders know how to mix a quality drink.

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